Del Mar
Photo: pikappa51/Fotolia

Del Mar is a laid back beach town on the Pacific coast about 20 minutes from San Diego. Called “the place where surf meets turf," Del Mar is famous for its beautiful beaches, world-known racetrack, wonderful weather, and upscale living. It is a place where you can spend the day on the beach doing nothing or fill it with non-stop action. Here are the best things to do in Del Mar.

»Del Mar Beaches

Del Mar Beaches


There are about two plus miles of fine sandy beaches in Del Mar, making it perfect for sunbathing, walking, or having a picnic. Del Mar City Beach is the most popular, and its northern part between the River Mouth and 15th street is considered the best in the entire San Diego area, with moderate surf and great swimming.

Bluffs line the southern side of the beach, and there are several trails leading down to the beach. Across from the racetrack is a popular dog-friendly beach, naturally called Dog Beach. It is located where San Dieguito River empties into the sea, creating a broad expanse of sand perfect for volleyball. It is not the best for swimming because of strong currents and shallow sandbars. However, it is protected from the wind and is great for making sand castles. Photo: michaelpeak/Fotolia

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»Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve

Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve


Hiking through Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, you can imagine how California looked before humans shaped it to their liking: wild, spectacularly beautiful, rich in plant and animal species, unspoiled, and untamed. Torrey Pines reserve is a 1,750-acre reserve located on the rough cliffs above Torrey Pines State Beach that was established to preserve the Torrey Pine tree and other native plants and animals in their natural environment.

There are about 3,000 of America's rarest pine trees- Pinus torreyana- in the reserve. This tree does not grow anywhere else except in the reserve and on Santa Rosa Island near Santa Barbara. The reserve also protects one of the last Southern California salt marshes and waterfowl refuges. About eight miles of challenging hiking trails will take you through this magnificent coastal wilderness of pine trees and sandstone canyons where every turn offers another spectacular view of the ocean. Photo: siajames/Fotolia

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»Del Mar Race Track, Del Mar, California

Del Mar Race Track, Del Mar, California

Del Mar racetrack, where the "turf meets the surf" is aDel Mar Thoroughbred Club horse racing track located in the lovely beach town of Del Mar, about 20 miles from San Diego. It is one of the biggesthorseracing venues in the States, with the capacity of 44,000 spectators.

The racing season is between July and September, and the races have become major social events in the country ever since the venue opened its doors in 1937. The racetrack also hosts concerts on the Seaside Stage, and tickets are free with admission to the racetrack.Kids under 17 enjoy free rides, games, and activities while their parents are having fun at the racetrack.

2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA, Phone: 858-755-1141 Photo: Del Mar Race Track

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»Kaaboo Del Mar

Kaaboo Del Mar


Kaaboo del Mar is a new kind of festival that redefines what we think about festivals. Located at the San Diego's historic Del Mar Racetrack and Fairgrounds, KAABOO is a three-day long live music event that includes more than 100 musical performances on seven stages with internationally known artists such as Lenny Kravitz, Jimmy Buffet, and Aerosmith.

KAABOO also features celebrity chefs and great local chefs, superb wine selections from California's best vineyards, samples from the best craft breweries, skilled mixologists, and so much more. There is also a special comedy stage with plush, comfortable seating and a fantastic dance party after hours. The festival will take place from September 16-18, 2016.

2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA, Phone: 303-957-2015 Photo: Kaaboo Del Mar

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»Del Mar Farmers Market, Del Mar, California

Del Mar Farmers Market, Del Mar, California

The Del Mar Farmer's Market is a small but robust farmer's market located at the south end of Del Mar Village. The DMFM offers most of the traditional farmer's market fare you would expect, including honey, fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

Unlike many other markets, however, this one is known for its international cuisine, meats, and seafood; seafood in particular is not something often found at a farmer's market. The cheeses and antipasti offerings are also noteworthy. Visitors to the San Diego area might enjoy stopping at the DMFM to buy some goodies for a picnic basket and heading down to the beach for a tasty lunch with a view.

1050 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014 Photo: bergamont/Fotolia

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»Cafe Secret

Cafe Secret


Cafe Secret is charming family owned open-air Peruvian restaurant located in the heart of Del Mar's European-style downtown. It is famous for its traditional ceviche and wonderful, warm atmosphere. Literally on the street, the restaurant's tables are surrounded by a profusion of blooming bougainvillea and tasteful Peruvian traditional textiles.

The aesthetics are simple and unassuming, letting the food shine. If you have never tasted Peruvian food, Cafe Secret is going to open your eyes. Start with Ceviche Mixto with fresh local fish, jumbo shrimp, octopus, Peruvian scallops, calamari, and New Zealand Green Lip mussels. For the main course, try Aji de gallina, a pulled chicken breast in aji sauce with walnuts, parmesan, and aji.

If you still have any space left, go for Quatros leches with strawberries and merengue. It is impossible not to fall in love with Peruvian food once you taste it prepared in just the right way, like in Cafe Secret. If you are lucky, there will be a guitar player strumming in the corner.

1140 Camino Del Mar, California 92014, Phone: 858-792-0821 Photo: Cafe Secret

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»Magical Adventure Balloon Rides

Magical Adventure Balloon Rides


Visitors to Del Mar who would like to see the beauty of the area from a slightly different vantage point should consider a trip with Magical Adventure Balloon Rides. The company offers year-round balloon tours of Del Mar, and they invite guests to enjoy a romantic ocean sunset balloon flight over the elegant homes and golf courses of the region.

Included in the price is a one-hour or 4-mile balloon ride, a champagne, juice, or mimosa toast, a commemorative flight certificate, and a souvenir picture. Several special packages are available, including a sunset private basket flight and sunset engagement or re-commitment flight.

P.O. Box 891951, Temecula, CA 92589, Phone: 951-699-5800 Photo: Magical Adventure Balloon Rides

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»Del Mar Surf School

Del Mar Surf School


The Del Mar Surf School provides visitors to the San Diego area with the opportunity to experience the joy of riding the waves. Whether it is your first time on a board or you are in need of a refresher, this surf school is prepared.

Would-be surfers can choose from Private Lessons, Semi-Private Lessons, Small Group Lessons, or Group Lessons - all at different price points in order to accommodate just about any budget. Lessons include use of a surfboard and wetsuit, on land and in water instruction, whitewater practice, real wave surfing, and photos to document the experience. (Phone: 858-621-3677) Photo: Del Mar Surf School

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»Panorama Balloon Tours

Panorama Balloon Tours


Panorama Balloon Tours provide another aerial option for visitors to southern California. This area is famous for spectacular sunsets, and one of the best ways to experience them is with a sunset balloon flight. These flights take passengers over multi-million dollar properties in Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch, and beautiful Del Mar.

While highlighting the beautiful coast and the expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Panorama offers the very best. It does not travel over the ocean, but takes visitors over the San Diego countryside to see the sun slipping into the ocean from an eastern vantage point. All balloon rides include complimentary hors d'oeuvres and beverages.

2683 Via De La Valle 625G, Del Mar, CA 92014, Phone: 800-455-3592 Photo: Panorama Balloon Tours

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»Jimmie O's, Del Mar, California

Jimmie O's, Del Mar, California


After a day of activities in Del Mar, Jimmie O's is a great place to grab a local craft beer and perhaps a bite to eat. With patio seating and customer acclaimed food, Jimmie O's is in walking distance from the shops of Del Mar, the dog beach, Power House Park, the San Diego Fairgrounds, and the Thoroughbred Club, as well as most hotels in Del Mar.

The Fish Tacos and Cajun fries come highly recommended. Jimmie O's offers not only big screen TVs for catching sporting events, but also karaoke, a DJ, and a dance club.

225 15th Street, Del Mar, CA 92014, Phone: 858-350-3735 Photo: Jimmie O's

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»Free Flight

Free Flight


For an adventure that is both educational and enjoyable, visitors should consider a stop at the Free Flight Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary's mission is to re-socialize and re-home parrots in need, while also educating the public about these beautiful and exotic birds. Visitors to the sanctuary walk among the birds and talk with them, as well as assisting with feeding them.

Staff members are available to help with handling those birds who like to be handled and to educate visitors about parrot care. While enjoyable for the human visitors, this daily routine helps the parrots become socialized and gives them a better chance to be re-homed, thus creating an advantageous situation for all.

2132 Jimmy Durante Blvd., Del Mar, CA 92014, Phone: 858-481-3148 Photo: Free Flight

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»Poseidon on the Beach

Poseidon on the Beach


The Poseidon on the Beach embodies the Southern California lifestyle - laidback yet sophisticated. Executive Chef Mourad Jamal comes to the Poseidon by way of Morocco, Southern France, and Disney World, bringing with him a world of experiences and recipes. These are reflected in the restaurant's numerous menus.

Whether guests are there for lunch, brunch, dinner, dessert, bar food, or just to enjoy a local craft beer with a view of the famous Del Mar sunset, the available culinary options are impressive. Of particular note is the Mini-Taco menu available Mondays and Thursdays.

1670 Coast Blvd., Del Mar, CA 92014, Phone: 858-755-9345 Photo: Poseidon on the Beach

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»Jake's Del Mar, Del Mar, California

Jake's Del Mar, Del Mar, California

Another dining option of note in the Del Mar area is Jake's Del Mar. Part of a family of restaurants in the Southern California area, Jake's offers lunch, dinner, and bar menus but is most famous for its extensive Sunday brunch offerings.

The breakfast selection of brunch includes favorites such as Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Langostino Lobster Omelet, and Banana Stuffed French Toast. But the star is the Eggs Benedict with a choice of ten different toppings. Those looking for something more lunch oriented might wish to try the Mac & Cheese Stuffed Meatballs or Lobster & Shrimp Rajas Tacos.

1660 Coast Boulevard, Del Mar, CA 92014, Phone: 858-755-2002 Photo: Jake's Del Mar

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»Market Restaurant + Bar

Market Restaurant + Bar

In 2006, locally born and raised professional Chef Carl Schroeder opened his now award-winning Market Restaurant + Bar in Del Mar. With two creative and innovative professional chefs in the kitchen, this restaurant promises a culinary adventure that is sure to impress. The menu consists of a selection of seasonal dishes created from fresh, locally grown, hand-selected ingredients.

The menu does however change daily as the chefs find exciting new menu items that take advantage of the best produce, seafood, and meats available at any given time of the year. They offer a dinner, sushi, and tasting menu, meaning guests are sure to find something new and exciting for their Del Mar dining experience.

3702 Via de la Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014, Phone: 858-523-0007 Photo: Market Restaurant

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»Pacifica Del Mar, Del Mar, California

Pacifica Del Mar, Del Mar, California

What would a visit to Southern California be without some spectacular seafood? Pacifica Del Mar is an award-winning seafood restaurant featuring both coastal cuisine and stunning views. The restaurant's dramatic setting is the perfect canvas for the highly acclaimed cuisine. The Pacifica offers a lunch, dinner and weekend brunch menu, as well as a 2-course Sunset Dinner menu.

Starting at 6pm, this pre-fixed price menu includes offerings such as Sugar-Spiced Salmon with Chinese Long Beans, Mustard Sauce, and Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Cavatappi Pasta with Rock Shrimp, Artichokes, Spinach, and Arugula Pesto, and Mustard Catfish, Mustard Marinade, Green Onion Aioli and Yukon Potato-Corn Succotash.

1555 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92014, Phone: 858-792-0476 Photo: Pacifica Del Mar

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15 Best Things to Do in Del Mar, San Diego